Five ways Donald Trump is wrong about Islam

Written By: - Date published: 7:37 am, March 7th, 2017 - 20 comments
Categories: International, us politics - Tags:

As quoted during the election campaign, Donald Trump said “I think Islam hates us.” Now-President Trump’s approach to Islam and Islamic immigration in to the United States is cataclysmically wrong. His first bungled measures against Muslim-dominant countries, and his new version announced yesterday, illustrates where his administration is going. Good news is that Iraq us no longer an immediate exclusion. So it’s down to six Muslim countries banned. But Trump’s fear of Islam is wrong on at least five counts.

  1. Power.

Could the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims overcome the rest of the world? Islam may well at some point become become the dominant religion in the world. But do Muslim countries have the ability to conquer the world? There are 47 Muslim-majority countries in the world, with a combined GDP of about US$5 trillion. The US has a GDP of $17 trillion by itself. The EU about the same. No match for any fictitious pan-Muslim coalition.

Muslim-majority countries spent roughly $270 billion on defence last year. Subtracting US allies like Saudi Arabia and UAE (US$87b and US$22b respectively), brings that down below US$200b. Even excluding all its allies, the US spends US$600b a year.

There’s no aircraft carriers, long-range bombers, or nuclear submarines in a pan-Muslim alliance. There’s very little power projection available at all. Even Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen shows pretty limited in effect in its own neighbourhood. A massive international intervention from a Muslim country or countries is not a threat on the horizon. The Siege of Vienna was in 1529.

  1. There’s no united Muslim threat to start with

My uncles remember the Axis. I remember the communist monolith. Trump has a new united thing called “radical Islamic terrorism”, like it’s some tightly integrated and centrally directed movement. Nope.

Most of the conflict in the Middle East is between different kinds of Islam and pan-family allegiances within, and their proxies. And there’s vast geographic and cultural differences between Morocco and Indonesia, or Brunei and Mali. It’s not easy for terrorist groups to be coherent, as we are reminded by Monty Python.

That doesn’t mean there’s no threat, it means it’s not a monolithic rising tide.

I would have thought that the smarter strategy would be to simply escalate ‘divide and rule’ against the terrorist minority. Work on bringing the great majority of Muslims onto a common side, rather than labelling all of them.

  1. Terrorism is Just Not That Big A Threat.

Granted, it‘s a threat. And new Muslim migrants have caused real social problems particularly in northern Europe. Whole governments are overturning on such fear. But compared to car accidents, smoking, or playing Rugby, one could be forgiven for Fox viewers thinking Islamic terrorism was far more likely to get you than any of them. Since and including 9/11, the likelihood a US citizen will be killed by a terrorist is less than 1 in 3 million per year. The lifetime risk is about 1 in 45,000.

That’s better odds than being killed by lightning, falling out of bed, or choking on food. It’s a real threat, it’s just pretty unlikely. Trump is being spooked by weak adversaries and over-hyped tv news. I wouldn’t want Trump having to face a really substantial and dedicated threat, and he hasn’t met one yet.

  1. “Creeping sharia” is a fairy tale.

Seriously, this anxiety almost sounds right out of Dr. Strangelove, and especially Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper’s rants about fluoridation and the need to protect our “precious bodily fluids.”

There are about 3.3 million Muslims in the United States. Maybe that gets to 2% by 2050. There’s 69.5 million Catholics. In fact there’s about 15 million Mormons, and not even Utah gets to form its own religious courts.

  1. But isn’t there a continual “clash of civilisations”?

One could try and defend the inherent superiority of one kind of belief system over another. It’s an argument for another day. If U.S. leaders keep demonizing an entire religion, impose ill-considered bans on Muslim refugees, and most important of all, continue to intervene throughout the Arab and Islamic world with military force, they will convince more and more people that Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were right when they claimed the West had “declared war” on their religion. For Steve Bannon’s view, read this.

The US has a pretty dark history of seeking and investigating internal threats, and forming a self-fulfilling prophecy out of them. In the New Zealand novel “Smith’s Dream” and the film “Sleeping Dogs”, New Zealand has its own communist insurgency. The US response, and local counter-response, follows pretty similar patterns to what we’ve seen from the U.S. fruitlessly invading other countries over hyper-inflated threats.

Insofar as Donald Trump’s team have a foreign policy, a big part of it appears to be forming the world’s Muslims into one big threat. It’s self-reinforcing, and it’s not a useful reading of threats. It feels like just another Vietnam, just another Afghanistan, on the horizon. Terrorist threats from Islamic extremists are real. But the U.S. Trump administration continues to respond really, really badly to them.

20 comments on “Five ways Donald Trump is wrong about Islam ”

  1. dv 1

    Gun laws in the USA are far more dangerous to the americans.

  2. Gabby 2

    What kills more people in a Paris magazine office – terrorists or playing rugby?

  3. esoteric pineapples 3

    Interesting fact I found out yesterday – 93 percent of Muslim women in Malaysia experience genital mutilation –

    • Ad 3.1

      Would you mind sticking to the post please.
      This is not a post designed for an anti-Muslim rant of any kind.

      • Richard Christie 3.1.1

        Nothing criticising Islam will be accepted, no matter how fact based.

        • Ad

          You want to do a critique of Islam as a whole, take it to Open Mike.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          These “facts” suggest that refugees have genuine reasons to seek asylum, and countries have genuine reasons for accepting them.

          Whereas racists and torture-apologists want to legalise barbarism for “enhanced interrogation”, and look the other way.

        • Cemetery Jones

          I was going to say, characterising facts on FGM as an ‘anti-Muslim rant’ seems a little off…

  4. Anne 4

    The 14 characteristics of fascism

    No. 3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

  5. Poission 5

    the likelihood a US citizen will be killed by a terrorist is less than 1 in 3 million per year. The lifetime risk is about 1 in 45,000.

    That’s better odds than being killed by lightning, falling out of bed, or choking on food. It’s a real threat, it’s just pretty unlikely.

    And an irrelevant fallacy.

    Thin tails and fat tails have very different outcomes and are not comparative in probability theory.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    There are 47 Muslim-majority countries in the world, with a combined GDP of about US$5 trillion. The US has a GDP of $17 trillion by itself. The EU about the same. No match for any fictitious pan-Muslim coalition.

    And there you go with the delusional economics again.

    If those 1.6 billion people actually got control of the resources in those countries and prevented the US and EU getting their hands on them then it’s entirely possible that they could militarily defeat the US and the EU. After all, what’s the US/EU going to do without fuel for starters?

    And those people really aren’t any less capable than the US/EU citizens.

    I don’t think that it’s probable but its certainly possible because of the very real physical resources available to them exceed that of the US/EU combined.

    • Ad 6.1

      The closest you get to that kind of redistribution of resources is when states really break down and warring factions essentially take over. You can see that in Somalia and South Sudan; there isn’t much to redistribute, but what there is get hoovered up by warring factions and redistributed their own way to their own people. Complete crisis as any semblance of law and order breaks down.

      That’s one of the important points in favour of any highly discriminatory immigration policy, including our own: people coming out of failed states, such as the ones that President Trump has listed in his policy, get very high scrutiny.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        The closest you get to that kind of redistribution of resources is when states really break down and warring factions essentially take over.

        In this case we’d need to see the exact opposite. Those 1.6 billion becoming a single nation with control of all the land and resources that they occupy. With that they’d be able to direct the resources to whatever ends they chose including war and stopping the flow to ‘enemies’.

        It’s that possibility that keeps the US and EU seeing Muslims as a threat because if that happened then both the US and EU economics would grind to a halt. It’s why, IMO, the US keeps interfering in the ME and keeping the peoples there at each others throat while supporting their corporations looting of those nations resources.

  7. As usual, Trump’s an arse. Islam should be opposed because it’s a fundamentally illiberal ideology, but the last time it was a military threat to western countries was more than 300 years ago. A military response to a non-military threat is just stupid.

  8. adam 8

    4. “Creeping sharia” is a fairy tale.

    Had an argument about this over the weekend. What I think is happening, is that the USA is actually acting similar to Byzantium in it’s relation to Islam. In that, it likes some parts of Islam, and dislikes others, so is confused on a theological level. It also see’s that Islam is having it’s own kind of reformation at the moment, and has no idea how to deal with it.

    I think the Sharia sect will fall over when women have had enough of it.


    Then why have we and the Aussies, played so nice with Indonesia for so long? Why do we ignore what is happening in West Papa? Why did East Timor rot for so long?

    Also I think you maybe missed soft power. Which the USA wins at as well. But worth a mention.

  9. HDCAFriendlyTroll 9


  10. Ian 10

    I grew up in a very tough environment, Why would any kiwi want sharia or to throw the homo guy off the top of the building. ??

  11. silvertuatara 11

    The status quo at the moment remains the “bread and butter profits” for the manufacturers, suppliers and users of armaments and weaponry that gets consumed in these geopolitical conflict’s.

    The ongoing profits to these organisations, and entities relies heavily upon the manufacturing of perception of a constant and growing threat, be it weapons of mass destruction, attributing the demises of the twin towers to a regime in a questionable manner, “Rising Tensions” between countries….the list would be long. If ISIL are ever destabilised then the scopes will turn on other areas of conflict which will no doubt escalate.

    The destabilisation of nations with rich asset bases has provided large corporations and conflicted interests the opportunity to exploit the asset bases, if that was not the sole strategic goal of the destabilisation in the first place. So in reality war has become a corporatised business, backed up by the spying and intelligance communities.

    Joe Public is subjected to through, the MSM, information to fuel these perceptions on a regular basis, and nothing works better that the creation of an “us and them” “all or nothing” perception of a conflict. Sadly as refugues, or past immigrants who are or may be of an Islamic faith are displaced from their home nations to welcoming countries it is sad to think that in an attempt to escape from war ravaged zones, or having immigrated to start a new life, that in certain countries these people and families
    may be further subjected to prejudicial, racial and human rights compromising treatments, by islamaphobic policy makers and anyone who blindly buys into the concept that because certain fractions within a culture/faith are involved in conflict that all other persons of that culture and faith hold similar views and will act in similar ways. The resistance to Trumps immigration ban is heartening to see.

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